Majority of US voters back expansion of aquaculture industry

A new poll commissioned by Stronger America Through Seafood (SATS) has found that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe it’s important to expand US aquaculture. 

84 percent of voters supported establishing a clear, predictable pathway for US aquaculture, while 86 percent believe it’s important to expand US aquaculture after learning the US imports most of its seafood and that it’s a low impact means to feed a growing population.

Two thirds of voters said that they would feel more favourable towards a member of Congress who established pathways for offshore aquaculture, while 87 percent of voters considered aquaculture important after learning the US is missing opportunities for jobs and creating a strong economy.

“Now is the time for Congress to act and put in place federal policies that would establish an aquaculture industry in U.S. federal waters and the majority of voters agree,” Sarah Brenholt, campaign manager of SATS, said.

“The annual output of the American aquaculture industry, valued at $1.5 billion, is only 0.6 percent of the $263 billion global aquaculture market. As a result of the seafood deficit, the U.S. imports up to 85 percent of the seafood we consume, mainly from Asia and Europe,” SATS stated.

“The lack of a clear and predictable policy framework for permitting offshore aquaculture hinders growth of an American industry because it deters investment in the U.S. Federal legislation is needed to establish a policy framework that supports growth of American aquaculture production and creates a thriving U.S. aquaculture industry that can compete on the global stage,” the organisation continued.

Read also: Maine resistance hampers approval of aquaculture projects

The strong support comes despite some strong local resistance in certain parts of the US to aquaculture projects. Aquaculture projects in Maine have repeatedly run into challenges, as the industry is forced to push town by town to secure approval to allow growers to expand within the state.

Nordic Aquafarms and Kingfish Maine both found that the permitting process in Maine was longer and more burdensome than their European companies faced, in Norway and the Netherlands respectively, according to representatives at the Northeast Aquaculture Conference.

The state took a firmer approach to American Aquafarms last week, terminating its applications to build a closed net pen salmon farm in Frenchman Bay. Whole Oceans, a land-based salmon farm, is set to break ground on its planned farm in Bucksport in the next few months, having secured approval for the project back in 2019.

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